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More youtube Steve/Lobelia videos…

January 2nd, 2008 · Comments Off on More youtube Steve/Lobelia videos…

Happy New Year! Hurrah! Hope your celebrations were fun…

here are three youtube vids of me and Lobelia live in Brighton about a month ago. Quality’s not great, but they were good performances for the most part. :o)

(Oh, and for those of you that have emailed me, I’ll get the download version of the new EP up ASAP, I promise! Sorry…)

Tea In The Sahara –

I Am Afraid Of the Dark –

Happy –

enjoy…

Tags: cool links · looping

Place names…

January 2nd, 2007 · Comments Off on Place names…

There’s a really strange element to traveling across Northern Ireland, in that almost every place name is familiar as the site of a bombing, or a murder or some kind of act of sectarian violence or political significance from the last 30 years. It’s like visiting southern california and driving past signs for Mulholland Drive and Sunset Blvd, only instead of feeling like you’re on a film set, you feel like you’re a bystander on a news broadcast. It’s a strange thing with place names – like Columbine or Waco, Darfur or Wounded Knee – they cease to be the name of a town, and become shorthand for disaster, for tragedy, for crazy behaviour.

It’s one of the interesting things about watching foreign news – or spending a lot of time in another country – you find a whole new set of significant place names. In the UK we’ve got Dunblane – site of a school shooting, Aberfan – site of a coal-slag-heap that collapsed on a school in the late 60s and wiped out an entire generation of kids there, Toxteth – area of Bristol where riots took place in the 70s. Brixton – more riots; Broadwater Farm – yet more riots; Lockerbie – the place where the plane blown up by Libyan terrorists crashed in Scotland… the list goes on. You drive past the road signs and they stick moreso than the rest of the small towns and council estates that fly past on long journeys…

Northern Ireland is littered with them. The sad thing is that it gets to the point where the feeling is a non-specific one – any place name you recognise must be the site of a tragedy, when in reality it could be that you heard it mentioned in a song, or had a pen-friend that lived there in your teens…

it’s been really lovely to spend a few days with lovely people in Belfast – the delightful Dr Higgins is a fantastic tour-guide to the psyche of the place (he hosted the amazing panel discussion at Greenbelt with the representatives from both sides that was so controversial they couldn’t release the tape of it). He’s a wise wise man, and I realise after just a couple of days how little I know about the history of what has gone on over there in the last half a century. I mean, I know the stuff that gets reported. I’ve read articles and interviews, watched the documentaries. But I’ve not even scratched the surface…

Belfast is one of those places that is now forever going to be a benevolent place in my mind – you know, those towns where the only people you know from there are lovely, so you subconsciously think that everyone there is delightful and friendly and wonderful? Nashville’s like that too. And Edinburgh is all about creative people being wacky on the royal mile… except it isn’t really, it’s just how you file things according to your experience. So Belfast is a place of community and parties and good food and great conversation and lovely lovely people and Neil Diamond, Bond Themes, hopes for the New Year, lots of hugs, a place to realise just how pathetic my knowledge of film is and how much catching up I’ve got to do, a place to walk along the beach in the freezing cold talking about child development and irving Goffman, Kierkagaard and the essence of self.

So at least one place has changed ‘Belfast’ is no longer just the site of orange marches and bomb scares. I’ll smile every time it’s mentioned on the news now.

Oh, and Gareth, if you haven’t written 2000 words today, you’ve no business reading blogs – get back to work. :o) x

Tags: Random Catchup

Happy New Year!

December 31st, 2006 · Comments Off on Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, bloglings. I hope you’re having fun, spending it with people you care about, and taking the time to reflect on the year gone and look forward to the year ahead.

2006 has been a really interesting year. Some good stuff, some not so good. 2007 looks like being a year of transition and change for so many people I know, and I hope and pray for all of them that those are changes for the better, changes that enable them to live more deliberately, more fully and to see their own potential for changing the world around them.

I hope you enjoyed the parties… onward and upwards into the new year, friends. xx

Tags: Random Catchup

The travel-pain of the ecomonkey

December 29th, 2006 · Comments Off on The travel-pain of the ecomonkey

So, as y’all know, I avoided a short-haul flight by taking the train/boat/train route to Belfast. Train, fine. Boat, hideous – the roughest crossing I’ve ever had, bar none. A veritable storm which had me retching into a sickbag, and falling asleep on the floor, unable to crawl back up onto my chair. The food was also appalling.

Still, I’m here now, with the lovely and wonderful Gareth, looking forward to a great New Year. Just don’t ask me to go on any boat-rides over the weekend…

On the bits of the journey where I wasn’t asleep or puking, I watched ‘I Know I’m Not Alone‘ again – the Michael Franti film, and read a big chunk of ‘As Used On The Famous Nelson Mandela‘ by Mark Thomas – an INCREDIBLE book. Vital viewing, vital reading. Just don’t try it on an Irish ferry in a storm.

Tags: Random Catchup

When Climate Change starts to sting…

December 19th, 2006 · Comments Off on When Climate Change starts to sting…

Ok, this is a tough one to write, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, to echo the words of Hugo Schwyzer in his post about this subject, I love flying. I love travel, I love the feeling of limitless possibility that one has in airports. It’s my one major concession to hyper-modernity – the sleek lines, shiny metal and monorails make me feel like I’m in the Jetsons. I’m a travel junky, and I’ve benefitted hugely from my experiences when traveling.

However, it’s quite clear that aviation is one of the biggest – if not THE biggest – factor in the climate change disaster in which we currently find ourselves. So what do we do? Hugo, in his post above says, basically ‘nothing’ – flying’s great, travel’s great, so fuck it, we’ll just have to go on feeling guilty and hope guilt soaks up some carbon (that’s a fairly unfair paraphrase, but that’s the gist…)

OK – firstly, full disclosure – I’ve got two transatlantic flights coming up – I’m flying to NYC in Jan, then to LA and then home from SF. That’s a lot of flying. It pretty much uses up my carbon allocation for the next year. So what have I done to change things? Well, I’ve pretty much sworn off short-haul flights (I say ‘pretty much’ – I haven’t been faced with a really good paying gig that I’d be required to fly to in order to accept it.. I’ve no idea what I’ll do if that comes up, to be honest) – but I’ve completely changed the way I do gigs on the continent – it’s now all about doing a month at a time, and doing it all on the train. And as my October trip proved, it works. Well, even as a solo artist. As a duo, it’d be a cinch.

So – I really need to think hard about how the transatlantic thing works. I’ve looked into boats, honestly, but it doesn’t seem possible for less than a couple of grand… So where do I draw the line? Allow myself a couple of transatlantic flights a year? I dunno, I’m struggling here, but I am going to get the train and boat to Belfast over new year, so that’s one short haul flight I’ve foresworn… it’s much cheaper on the train/boat anyway!

For now, though, go and read what George Monbiot is writing about this – Monbiot is without doubt one of the most important thinkers on climate change, and the things we need to do to combat it. A lot of people are desperately trying to discredit him, but it’s not working. And while you’re there, check out TurnUpTheHeat.org – and why not write to Gordon Brown about taxation of aviation, or Douglas Alexander about the airport expansion policy? And how about signing up to the year of living generously, in order to look at the myriad ways we can cut back our global footprint…

Tags: Rant - Politics, Spirituality, etc.

Duke Special and BJ Cole live at the Purcell Room.

December 14th, 2006 · Comments Off on Duke Special and BJ Cole live at the Purcell Room.




Duke Special live at the Purcell Room.

Originally uploaded by solobasssteve.

Great gig last night – Duke Special and BJ Cole at the Purcell Room. I’ve known Pete Wilson, AKA Duke Special, for years – he’s a lovely bloke, hugely talented, and is finally getting the acclaim he deserves.

Last night’s gig was part of a ‘Cool Yule’ pair of gigs – the next one being the Juliet Turner gig next week, and I felt in some way proudly responsible for this one as the lovely promoter JJ met BJ at the gig BJ and I did together at the Half Moon a few months back.

The gig started with BJ’s set, with his ‘Trouble In Paradise’ trio, featuring Ben Bayliss on laptop monkeyness and Eddie Sayer as percussion hobbit – it’s a really great trio, with Eddie in particular adding a crazy human element to all the looped and programmed beats etc. The steel was a little too quiet on the gig, frustratingly so at first, but still ’twas a great set.

Then Duke’s set – it’s the first time I’ve heard Duke Special with a full band – tonight featuring the ever present Chip Bailey on percussion, Paul Wilkinson on fantastic bass and guitar, Ben Hales from Aqualung on guitar, bass, keys, BVs, percussion etc. Ben Castle on sax and clarinet, and then David Ford and BJ Cole guesting on three tunes. ‘Twas a great gig – moving, funny, beautifully played, all good nothing bad. Duke Special is going to be huge in the new year, so go and see him/them as soon as you can…

the aftershow party was magic – a room full of really lovely people, 80% of whom I already knew, and a load of other lovelies that I didn’t previously know.

Yay for Duke!

Tags: Musing on Music

Last date of my European Tour…

November 4th, 2006 · Comments Off on Last date of my European Tour…

Was in Wales last night. Cross Keys to be precise. Somewhere near Newport. Not quite sure where though.

The gig was put on by Islwyn Guitar Club, and as such was half gig half guitar club stuffs. Started with a bit of a workshop from me, which from the feedback on bassword was much appreciated, thankfully… Then onto a bit of a play round, couple of nice guitar contributions, then Andy Long making his solo bass debut, and doing a fine job of it, followed by Alun Vaughn playing a 20 minute solo set – some great playing, no loopage or processing, just six string bass, a gorgeous version of Here’s that Rainy Day, and a solo bass version of Purple Haze that was completely different to Michael Manring’s, which made a very nice change.

I had two 45 minute sets, so did a similar set to the ones in Kleve and Milan – lots of older tunes in the first set, and lots of Behind Every Word stuff in the second, plus Deep Deep Down (Eric Roche’s tune that leads into Deeper Still), and What A Wonderful World. Also had a bash at a completely solo version of Knocks Me Off My Feet as an encore (an encore! I hate encores, but still…), which shows promise!

Drove home, back here just before 3. So knackered now, but so much to do today. Office is in an even bigger mess than usual (more mess?? Surely that’s not possible?) and much admin and gig booking has to be done for the new year…

So there endeth the European Tour – next gig is the Recycle Collective first anniversary gig on 15th November at Darbucka – you SO don’t want to miss that. Rumour has it there are people coming from Denmark to be there… beat that, Italian blog readers!!! haha!

Tags: Music News

Call off the new year's honour…

March 2nd, 2006 · Comments Off on Call off the new year's honour…

OK, the Bus thing on Jez’ blog was a hoax. The evil Jez was clearly just bored and felt like winding people up. It was beautifully written, and given Jez’ very bizarre life thus far, easily believable – if you get the chance, ask him about his part in Mandela’s release… that one isn’t a hoax!

Tags: Uncategorized

homeless shelters and tax returns

January 8th, 2006 · 1 Comment

Catching up – three very very busy teaching days Thurs/Fri/Saturday – much fun. Busy days like those are a great confirmation of how much I enjoy teaching, I love getting to the end of a day, feeling that I’ve worked hard, and the students have all taken away lots of good quality stuff to work on, hopefully been inspired and are beavering away at their practice!

Saturday after teaching was a visit to see my dad – really ought to see him more as he only lives half an hour away. A most enjoyable few hours.

Had to leave fairly early as I was doing an overnight shift in the St Luke’s homeless shelter – long-time blog readers will remember said shelter from previous years – this is i think my fifth or sixth year of helping out. It’s hardly a huge commitment – I tend to do every other saturday night from january to march, excluding saturdays when I’m not actually in the country…

this was the first night of the new year for the shelter, and was utterly without incident. But it did give me a chance to finish one of my christmas present books – ‘Serious’ by John McEnroe. A good read, for sure, clearly aimed at tennis fans (a fair few play by play dissections of big games, big sets big matches). He didn’t turn out to be quite the sage I’d assumed he was from his commentary skills – he’s one of the best sports commentators I’ve ever encountered (and, to be fair, that’s not many, given my general antipathy to all sport except tennis), but his wisdom in commentating on the psyche of the players doesn’t really seem to have come from having lived a sage life. Maybe he’s just learned from having got it all wrong in his own life. Definitely a worthwhile read though.

So not much sleep last night, which meant two things – a) I missed church by not waking up til 1pm after getting to bed at 6.45, and b) I missed most of the Soil Association organic market thingie happening down by the Barbican. It was organised by the lovely Ruthie, and featured some lovely live music from the lovely Andy Buzzard and Jonny Gee. Great to see them play, if only for one number. Also gave me a chance to meet lots of cuddly musos and invite them along to Thursday’s Recycle Collective gig, which I’m getting more and more excited about the closer it gets – the potential musical marvellousness in a trio of me, Cleveland and BJ is pretty huge, methinks. We’ve played together before, when I did a gig at Darbucka last year that both of them guested on, and it was magical. Don’t miss it!

So, after getting back from the organic thingie, I’ve just finished, submitted and paid my tax return/bill for 2004-2005. Fortunately, I only had about £50 to pay over and above what I’d already paid on account for last year… well, fortunately for now, unfortunate if you think that it means I earned less than the previous year (main reason for that is that in 2004 I was still receiving HUGE PRS cheques for the Level 42 tour…) Good news is, online CD sales were higher in 04-05 than ever before, which is great news.

One of my resolutions for next year is not to leave it til Jan 2006 to submit my tax return. I’d LOVE to actually get it done in April for the first time ever, and then have all year to pay a figure that I actually know. In order to do that, I’ll have to get my financial records for this year up to date in the next week, so I can stay on top of it from here on in… here’s hoping.

As an aside, I submitted my tax return online – what a breeze! It does all the calculating for you, tells you the boxes you’ve missed, makes sure your sums all add up, and gives you a print out at the end. Couldn’t be easier.

And now I’ve done the taxation bit, I feel inspired to write some letters to my MP to do something about the representation bit. I’m a fan of tax, in principle, I’m happy to pay my way, and to pay more to help those who haven’t got enough. But I do wish we had more say over how it was spent, and a less wasteful exchequer – Government spending is a disaster, which while not doing away with the need for taxation, certainly makes most people’s loathing of it a lot easier to understand.

Tags: Random Catchup

New Year's resolutions

January 1st, 2006 · 1 Comment

Part one, music/work-related –

1) – new solo album
2) – new album with Theo
3) – more gigs in Italy
4) – make headway on first book (any of the ideas will do, no really)
5) – record live DVD? possibly…
6) – establish Recycle Collective as THE monthly gig to be at (it already is, people just don’t know it yet)
7) – do band arrangements of my tunes and gig them (the quartet I’ve been talking about for about a year and a half)
8) – look afresh at distribution deal options
9) – more collaborations!
10) – less time wasted online, more time practicing.

Tags: Random Catchup